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Care-A-Van brings food, music and art to Northeast Ohio farmers markets

July 11, 2018

Care-A-Van brings food, music and art to Northeast Ohio farmers markets

Look for Care-A-Van community programs to liven up several area farmers markets this summer. Or listen for them, since music is one of the many ways the experimental program is promoting farm-fresh vegetables in urban neighborhoods. Art, dance exercises, cooking demonstrations, nutrition information, health screenings, employment advice, and performances by young rappers with original lyrics about health are part of the visits.

Find farmers markets across Northeast Ohio with our clickable map.

Sara Continenza, a South Euclid city councilwoman and founder of Whole Vision LLC, says she started piloting Care-A-Van this winter at Coit Road Farmers Market in East Cleveland and found increased attendance at the markets during their stops.

“We want to build a knowledge of, and appreciation for, fresh healthy foods,” said Continenza. “And markets are starting points for more vegetable purchases. With that comes changes in health and the local economy. People find they have a greater sense of ownership of the markets.”

The summer program begins this week. Here’s the schedule:

Coit Road Farmers Market: 15000 Woodworth Ave., East Cleveland, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, July 14, with a plant sale, community garden tours and gardening advice, 10-11 a.m., an “affordable” brunch and a musical appearance by Collective Express.

North Union Farmers Market at Shaker Square: Cleveland, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, July 21, with Collective Express, Refresh Collective (with rapping students from Fresh Camp).

Slavic Village Farmers Market: 5016 Fleet Ave., Cleveland, 4-7 p.m. Monday, July 23, with hip hop performances by Refresh Collective.

Collinwood Community Pot Luck: Euclid Beach Park, Cleveland, 4-7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5.

A former worker with Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland, Continenza says she understands the importance of food giveaways.

“But we’ve got to go beyond the Band-Aid approach,” she added, and create more appreciation and appetite for fresh, local foods. “It helps in economic revitalization and wellness in some communities facing some of the most extreme health problems. In South Euclid, where I live, there are three grocery stores. In East Cleveland there’s not one. Residents up the hill have a life expectancy 20 years greater than residents down the hill.”

While the Shaker Square market easily draws consumers from wealthier neighborhoods, said Continenza, “people from the other side of the market, on Buckeye Road, are not taking as much advantage of it. We want to start giving more access to people to experience the market and maybe come back. We want people from all over coming together. That’s what makes Cleveland great.”

Evaluations and some of the educational activities will likely take place over the winter, said Continenza. She’d like to see Care-A-Van have its own non-profit status apart from its current sponsor, Food Conscious. She hopes to branch out into transportation services and deepen current partnerships with Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth System, United Way and others.

Find more at food-conscious.org and click on “projects.”

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